Nithya Pushpa is a herbaceous perennial plant native to India. Its leaves are used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat fever, cough, asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory ailments.
Nithya Pushpa has been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes. The plant was described in the Charaka Samhita, written in Sanskrit around 500 BC. In modern times, it is known as Catharanthus roseus or commonly called Madagascar Periwinkle.
Catharanthus roseus contains alkaloids such as vinblastine, vindoline, catharanthine, and narcotine. These compounds are used in chemotherapy and cancer treatment. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.
The plant is grown commercially for its roots which contain vincristine, an important anticancer drug. Vincristine is produced by culturing C. roseus cells with light. This process produces a crude extract of the alkaloid that must be purified before use.
Periwinkles are widely cultivated as ornamental plants. Their flowers are popular in gardens because they attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
In addition to their beauty, periwinkles are useful in horticulture. They can grow in poor soil and thrive in full sun. They tolerate drought well and do not require much water once established.
They are easy to propagate from seed. When planted in spring, seeds germinate quickly and produce new plants within two weeks.
They are hardy perennials and will survive most winters without protection.
How to Grow Catharanthus roseus
1. Select a sunny location where you want to grow your periwinkles. If you live in a cold climate, choose a spot protected from wind and frost.
2. Choose a site with rich, fertile soil. Avoid areas near sources of heavy metals like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, nickel, and zinc.
3. Add organic matter to improve drainage and add composted manure if available. Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball and mix in some fertilizer.
4. Plant your periwinkles in late fall or early spring. Keep them watered during dry periods until they begin growing again.
5. After about three months, you should see sprouts emerging from the bottom of the pot. Remove any weeds and transplant the periwinkles into individual pots.
6. Water regularly and fertilize when needed. You may need to repot every year or so depending on how fast your plants grow.
Medicinal uses of Periwinkle
Vindoline, a compound found in Catharanthus roseus, is used in chemotherapy and cancer treatments. It is one of the active ingredients in the antimalarial drug mefloquine.
A study published in 2008 showed that extracts of Catharanthus roseus could inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cell lines. Another study published in 2009 demonstrated that extracts of Catharanthus roseus inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells.
Other studies have shown that extracts of Catharanthus roseus may help prevent heart disease. The alkaloids in Catharanthus roseus may help reduce blood pressure.
It is believed that the alkaloids found in Catharanthus roseus may also help protect against Alzheimer's Disease.
Another study published in 2010 showed that extracts of Catharanthus roseus may help fight depression.
Vinca rosea has been used for centuries to treat various ailments such as cancer, epilepsy, arthritis, gout, and rheumatism. The plant contains alkaloids which include vinblastine and vincristine. These compounds are used to treat certain types of cancers such as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. They also help to prevent nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy treatment.
Vincristine is used to treat acute myelogenous leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, Burkitt’s lymphoma, neuroblastoma, testicular tumors, ovarian carcinoma, cervical carcinoma, and prostate cancer. Vincristines are also used to treat Kaposi sarcoma, a rare form of skin cancer.
Vinca alkaloids are also used to treat glaucoma. Vincristine is used to treat acute lymphocytic leukemia. Vincristinate is used to treat childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Dr. Vandana K.
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